Responsiveness of city law firm questioned
A three-year, boilerplate renewal with the city’s contract law firm was almost pulled from the consent agenda during Monday night’s Homer City Council meeting at the request of a council member who expressed frustration with the representation the city has received.
Councilmember Joey Evenson shared his concerns about Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens of Anchorage during the council’s Committee of the Whole meeting, held in the hour before the regular meeting.
“My real beef, so to speak is, is about Baycrest. And I think this is a council that wanted to act and do something. And I felt like we'd been held back from our legal counsel,” Evenson said. “And it would be nice to have legal counsel that understands what city council wants to do and then helps them get from A to B in whatever way to get there, rather than just shutting them down.”
Councilmember Heath Smith admitted to some frustration as well, but said any relationship has that.
“Considering what we went through in order to retain this firm and the other extenuating circumstances that have existed since then, I'm willing to cut them a little bit of slack,” Smith said. “I do agree that, responsiveness has been a little lacking at times.”
Mayor Ken Castner echoed Smith’s cautions.
“You need to understand that the process that we went through in selecting an attorney was a very long process,” Castner said. “And, and that the attorney has for the majority of the time been an attorney in absence, because of the pandemic.”
Evenson suggested amending the new contract from three years to one, as a way of helping keep the city’s options open.
The attorney from Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens, who was not identified, offered up a short report during the regular meeting.
“I'd like to mention that JDO is honored to serve the legal needs of the city of Homer,” he said. “And we look forward to working with the city, council, mayor, the administration in addressing the legal issues that may come up and legal questions. So thank you very much.”
The committee discussion did not lead to any change in council action. The resolution approving a three-year contract remained on the consent agenda, and was approved.